Tribune Tavern brings brunch to 13th and Franklin in downtown Oakland.
I love a good brunch. At home, out or at a friend’s house, I love sharing a weekend meal when the whole day is ahead of me. Already a huge success at lunch and in the post-work dinner hours, Tribune Tavern is getting into the brunch business. My husband and I visited as guests of the restaurant to get a look at their new brunch menu and try a few dishes.
We were greeted by General Manager Rob Soviero who was wearing a special retro baseball t-shirt the restaurant made with the folks from Oaklandish to celebrate the 1969 Oakland A’s. The whole staff was wearing the shirts that the A’s were distributing that day to 10,000 fans. On a quick tour, Rob told us some of the background of the restaurant’s design. Repurposed materials from the building’s basement, like lamps made from pipes and a table resting on massive dollies, might be easy to miss if you are focused on your meal, but we enjoyed taking a closer look. There were also a few reminders of the building’s storied past like these typeset letters.
Tribune Tavern makes their own cocktail mixes, sodas and tonics. A quick trip through the kitchen revealed an entire prep and testing area for cocktails, complete with a wall of herbs to work with. We’ve had cocktails at dinner on previous visits, and it’s easy to see there is a real commitment to a creative, thoughtful set of offerings. Here’s a look at the bloody mary that arrived with a pickled asparagus spear, an olive and a lemon. The pint glass was rimmed with chile powder and salt, and it had a spicy kick. Their full cocktail, wine and beer menu is available at brunch.
While the brunch menu combines the familiar with the somewhat unexpected, Tribune never goes too far away. This is not about pushing yourself to unheard of flavor combinations. It’s not edgy. The food is honest without being simple, and interesting without showboating.
The Duck Confit Scramble with white cheddar, onions, and herbs is typical of Tribune’s style. I’m fairly certain I haven’t had duck confit with eggs, and it left me wondering why I waited so long. The small side of Italian parsley was lightly dressed with lemon and just enough salt to cut the bitterness of each bite. It also cut the richness of the confit without overpowering the dish. We also shared the Colcannon Hash with eggs sunny-side up, bacon and a Calabrian chile hollandaise. Again, a dish rooted in the familiar vein of well-executed comfort food with the chile hollandaise bringing an oozy kick.
Salad in the morning? At Brunch? I’m one of those people who just can’t get enough salad and I’ve never been a fan of the idea that certain foods are only for certain times of day. While people may gravitate to the more starchy and heavy parts of the menu, Tribune’s salads are not to be missed and are generous in their portions. The salads, like the rest of the menu, rotate seasonally. Today’s version had arugula, spinach, roasted cauliflower, potatoes, walnuts, pickled onions and clothbound cheddar. We had the option of adding grilled chicken ($3) or poached yellowtail ($4).
On our quick tour through the kitchen we saw a considerable baking operation taking place. Tribune makes their breads and scones fresh each day. We shared a currant scone that was served with plum jam and whipped butter. I thought I’d miss the clotted cream that I’m used to with scones, but the whipped butter works.
We enjoyed getting to talk to Executive Chef Huw Thornton and the staff of Tribune Tavern. Brunch service is new for the restaurant, and it will be interesting to see how the place fills in.
401 13th Street
Brunch: Sat. & Sun. 10:30 AM to 3:00 PM
Lunch: Mon.-Fri. 11:30 AM to 3:00 PM
Dinner: Mon.-Thu. and Sun. 5:00 PM to 10:00 PM